Selection procedures vary enormously. At one extreme, you could be asked along for a friendly chat, culminating in a job offer. At the other extreme, you could be in for a series of nail-biting grillings, backed up by psychological tests.
Are these variances completely random? Or is there some way of telling in advance what kind of selection procedure you will have to go through and what kind of ordeal you should prepare yourself for?
Although there is an element of unpredictability about selection procedures (employers please themselves), the following check-list gives a rough guide of what to expect:
- Seniority. Are you applying for a top job (e.g, director or senior manager)? If so, expect to be put through the hoops.
- Size of organization. As a natural feature, bigger employers tend to have more formal selection procedures. Small firms, on the other hand, tend to be more relaxed in their approach.
- Professional involvement. Where consultants or human resources management professionals are involved, there will always be a tendency towards a more formalised and structured approach. For instance, interview with professionals first, followed by a short-list and re-interview by the manager who has responsibility for making the appointment. Note: involvement of professionals also ties in with the size of organisations – big firms are more likely to use professionals then their smaller counterparts.
- Competition. Where there are large numbers of applicants, the need will arise for some kind of sifting process. Candidates will probably face a series of selection stages with some candidates disposed of at each stage. Competition is often a feature of jobs that are advertised (visible market).
Designing strategies to address the task
It is clear that there is no one standard way to approach every job application. For example, psyching yourself up and rehearsing all sorts of smart answers to difficult interview questions will have little point if the person sitting on the other side of the desk is someone who has known you for the last 20 years. Similarly, taking a casual laid back approach will not earn you many brownie points if your application has to be vetted by an up-market firm of selection consultants.